Wow – this might be the strongest Stella Prize field I’ve ever seen. Congratulations to all.
This year’s longlisted titles are:
- Victoria: The Queen (Julia Baird, HarperCollins)
- Between a Wolf and a Dog (Georgia Blain, Scribe)
- The Hate Race (Maxine Beneba Clarke, Hachette)
- Poum and Alexandre (Catherine de Saint Phalle, Transit Lounge)
- Offshore: Behind the Wire on Manus and Nauru (Madeline Gleeson, NewSouth)
- Avalanche (Julia Leigh, Hamish Hamilton)
- An Isolated Incident (Emily Maguire, Picador)
- The High Places (Fiona McFarlane, Hamish Hamilton)
- Wasted: A Story of Alcohol, Grief and a Death in Brisbane (Elspeth Muir, Text)
- The Museum of Modern Love (Heather Rose, A&U)
- Dying: A Memoir (Cory Taylor, Text)
- The Media and the Massacre (Sonya Voumard, Transit Lounge).
The shortlist will be announced on 8 March and the winner at a ceremony in Melbourne on 18 April.
As a writer of non-fiction, I can’t help but be pleased to see the shortlist comprises seven works of nonfiction (and four novels and one short-story collection). Great mix of large and small publishers too – including two from Text – huzzah!
This year’s prize is judged by author and academic Brenda Walker; author and literary critic Delia Falconer; bookseller Diana Johnston; editor and chair of First Nations Australia Writers’ Network Sandra Phillips; and author and screenwriter Benjamin Law.
The Stella Prize is presented for the best work of fiction or nonfiction by an Australian women published in the previous calendar year. The prize is named after Miles Franklin, whose first name was Stella, and was inspired by the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.
I can’t see the influence of Benjamin Law in the list at all!
You know, at the launch of the Stellas (I was there) they said that women were prominent in genre fiction (romance, crime etc) and their prize was going to include writing in all its forms. But they have never yet even longlisted any form of genre fiction: and if Law (who writes light-hearted comic gaylit)was appointed to make it look as if they were at least considering it, it doesn’t look as if escapist fiction writers got anywhere this year either!
What an interesting point – you’re right, of course, no genre fiction at all… although maybe ‘An Isolated Incident’ might loosely be defined as genre fiction (sort of, perhaps, maybe).
To what extent do publishers even enter genre fiction in the Stella, I wonder?
Ooh, I wouldn’t call An Isolated Incident genre fiction even though there’s a murder in it, though #hedging my bets, because it’s so readable it hovers near the border of commercial fiction.
But … you’re probably right, if genre publishers ever did enter the Stella, they’ve probably learned not to waste their money by now.
BTW I see you have Convincing Ground on your bedside table… #snap! I bought that too after the Bruce Pascoe workshop:)
Yeah, I wasn’t sure how to categorize An Isolated Incident either! Only just started Convincing Ground – it’s very very good.
As I commented in my own blog responding to you Michelle, I think there have been a few books that are accepted as “genre” by those who work in the genres on some of the long/shortlists for the Stella. In fact Angela Savage has said that the Sisters in Crime people see An isolated incident as crime. In the first list there was a verse spec-fic novel, and a fantasy novel. And certainly there have been historical fiction. I can’t see traditional genre winning the Stella anymore than I can see popular general fiction winning it. I don’t think that undermines the Stella people’s argument for and support of women’s writing – the prize is just one of their prongs.
And Lisa, I do see Benjamin Law’s presence here perhaps in the number of memoirs in the list. He gives writing classes focusing on life-writing I think. I don’t though see much in the way of what we are currently seeing as “diversity” in this list but there are “diverse” judges on the panel. I find this very interesting – but then not having read the books I may be wrong and there’s more diversity (besides Maxine Beneba Clarke) than I can tell from my superficial knowledge.
BTW Michelle. I thought last year’s list was very strong!
Which all goes to show, perhaps, that the genre categories are pretty loosely defined! Each of the books that has won the Stella so far was an excellent book, so my quibbles are really neither here nor there. And perhaps I just liked this years’ list because there was so much non-fiction on it… ;-)
I though that was the reason you called it a “strong” list!
As for genre categories, I’d argue they should be loosely defined, don’t you think?
Yes, I would absolutely argue that genre categories should be loosely defined, if they must be defined at all. I hate pigeon-holing! And I hate even more the judgements made about literary quality simply because of the pigeon-hole. Not by you, obviously. I’m talking about ‘they’. ;-)
I think some sort of categorisation can be useful, for a whole range of reasons, but I like them to be broad and loose – and yes, I agree re judgements being made based on category or pigeon-hole. The term “literary fiction” is problematic and yet we need to be able to describe what we like to read when someone asks us. It’s easy to say “I love crime” or “sci-fi” or “historical fiction” but if your interests are not so much about content but – hmmm – style (for want of a better word), what do you say?
Re: categorisation. Are genre categories a bit like that apocryphal quote about democracy? Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. Categorisation by genre similarly has no better alternative!
Haha Michelle, perhaps. It’s probably better than categorising by colour of the book cover, though some library patrons would probably like that. As in, “I’d like to borrow a book. I can’t remember it’s name but I know it has a red cover”!
its not it’s!!
the second it’s I mean. the first one is OK. LOL
I do like the way colour-coded bookshelves look in magazine shoots of gorgeous homes. But yes, finding the right book would be a nightmare!